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Monday, January 22, 2018

Take a Tea Break

On a cold and chilly morning on a recent trip to China, we were preparing for an early morning hike. Our guide arrived to greet us, appearing through a curtain of mist, with a flask in one hand and a stack of small cups in the other. As we drank from the cups, it was almost magical how our senses were heightened by the harmony of the aroma and our dramatic natural surroundings. The warmth of the tea was as comforting as the camaraderie that came from sharing these moments of time. Once strangers, we were now good friends. The tea infused us all with energy for our trek.   

We began a conversation with our guides about the art of drinking tea. No, having a tea is not a quick drive through a Starbucks or a dash into a local coffee shop, the art of drinking tea is about taking the time to slow down while breathing in the aroma coming from the steeping tea leaves.  As we began to learn about the different types of teas --  their tastes and their regions -- we were intrigued and decided to take a class about tea.

The next day, we met May, who invited us into her world of tea.  She told us how she fell in love with it at a very young age.  She was from a small village where both her parents worked full days, 6-7 days a week.  Yet, once a week, her mother would always find time for the two of them to go to a local tea shop. They would spend hours talking and laughing as they sipped on their favorite teas accompanied with sweets from the local market. 

She knew from these early experiences, that she wanted to make it her mission to introduce the art of tea appreciation to everyone she could meet. 

As we slowly sipped on a variety of teas, we shared in many stories with much joyous laughter. We found ourselves lost in time…not rushing to grab something, text a note or pick up the phone for a two minute call. We stopped. Time stopped as we took in the moments and the layered aromas of the earth. We learned how to taste the flavors of these aromas, and as we sipped, we were walking through the humid forests, climbing to the tops of mountains and traversing golden plains with our eyes closed! "The essence of the tea will quench your adventurous spirit," she said. 

Our special May closed our class with a request. She asked that we remember her with our next cup of tea and that we continue her mission to invite others for tea.

As I write, I am sipping on a Snow Blossom tea (May’s favorite). And, I've invited a friend who will be here very soon. To May, we will raise our teacups! 

Sit and sip a cup of tea. Let it warm your soul. And let the sharing of tea invite conversation. It is truly a special gift of time, of peace and of comfort.